Arrow Season 3 Ep 10 (TV Show Review)

This week marked the return of two of CW’s best and top-rated shows of recent years, the superhero epics The Flash and Arrow. The Flash, a new entry to CW’s line-up last year, made its mid-season comeback in a grand way by bringing back one of the favourite villains of the young show and had the hero fight off against some big challenges, physically, mentally, and morally. It was the kind of writing that has seen the show become such a big hit in a short-amount of time, and for Arrow it is the same. The mid-season finale left things on a very grim note, with the titular hero having been killed by Ra’s al Ghul, the leader of the League of Assassins, and the wait for the mid-season premiere has been long and hard.

But, it happened this week, and I’m quite happy to say that it was a pretty damn good episode in almost every way that mattered. The writers touched on pretty much all the major plotlines, whether set in the present time or in the flashbacks in Hong Kong, and they showed how Team Arrow is moving on and handling things in Starling without the aid of Oliver, presumed dead. “Left Behind” is a great episode in the finest tradition of the show, now in the middle of its third season, and shows the entire team taking on challenges that you wouldn’t have assumed they’d take so early. That’s what I love most about the show, in addition to all the new twists on classic things, and the mid-season premiere is definitely an episode to watch.

Jake Coburn and Keto Shimizu apparently killed off Oliver Queen in the mid-season finale, when his unsought for duel against Ra’s al Ghul turned back on him and he was defeated by the Demon’s Head. It was a rather big emotional moment, followed as it did on the heels of the revelation that Malcolm Merlyn had manipulated Oliver’s sister Thea into killing Oliver’s ex-girlfriend and vigilante ally Sara Lance, back in episode 1. With the League of Assassins bearing down on Oliver to find Sara’s killer (Sara had been romantically involved with Ra’s al Ghul’s daughter Nyssa), Oliver was left with no choice but to take the blame on himself. Malcolm Merlyn’s deceptive tricks were executed rather brilliantly, and so we come to the mid-season premiere, where we see how all the characters are beginning to change now.

The episode begins with something very interesting. In the absence of Oliver, it has fallen to both Roy and John to take up the slack, and clearly, the two are trying to do their best. John even puts on the greens to keep up appearances that the Arrow is still at large in Starling, which I found both touching and informative as to the direction that the show could eventually take, a year or two down the line. But the thing is, while both Roy and John are trained fighters capable of handling themselves, they do fall short of the levels of physical achievement that Oliver has, and they are also not able to properly coordinate with each other.

This is all part of the… cost of the titular hero’s absence, and it extends even further into the episode when we see that Thea is worried about Ollie being incommunicado, which leads to Malcolm being fearful himself, and then even to Felicity, who has a rather… interesting reaction to the whole thing. The only character that I think truly epitomized that everything Oliver has done to date in the show is, surprisingly enough, Laurel. She is steadfast in her belief that Ollie is alive and even if he isn’t then everything he stood for and fought for isn’t gone, and there’s a legacy that needs to be maintained here, when it comes to the deaths of the two people closest to her, Sara and Oliver.

And that’s where the show got really awesome as far as I’m concerned. The internal divisions between Team Arrow were fun to see and I think that Felicity eventually gave up too quickly with Roy and John accepting the… inevitable, but it was really Laurel who shone a big light on the future of justice in Starling. The writers and producers have been building up to introducing Laurel as Canary all season, and this is where it all really kicks off. She has trained and trained, and now is the perfect opportunity for her. She is fated to be the show’s Black Canary, different from how her sister Sara was portrayed as the Canary, and the differences and similarities between both women are rather appealing in the final tally.

However, the moment where I thought that the show took some really bold strides forward was in the scenes with Malcolm Merlyn. He pretty much sent Oliver off to get killed, but he believed that Oliver truly could win against Ra’s al Ghul. Whether it was a genuine belief or something that he wanted to believe is irrelevant. His big gamble failed, and the son of the woman he loved dearly is now dead. His daughter was close to her brother, and he can feel her pain too.

John Barrowman has always been excellent in the role, but in “Left Behind” I think he truly stepped up. There is so much nuance in his performance, perfectly capturing the internal turmoil of the character. Despite all their differences, he never really wanted to see Oliver dead, especially not once he found out that Thea was his own daughter and not Robert Queen’s. That practically makes Oliver family. And now another “son” is dead.

Arrow Season 3 Poster 0001The villain this week was Danny Brickwell, portrayed handsomely by former Juggernaut Vinnie Jones, and he was built up really nicely. He is clearly some kind of a metahuman, and while we don’t get to see him upfront and close over the course of the episode, by the end he is indeed built up as a big menace in the city, someone that only Oliver could really confront and take down.

But that’s all by the by because first and foremost this show was about how the status quo of all the characters has changed. Each of them took some strides forward in becoming more than they were at the end of the mid-season finale, and the time forward is full of uncertainty, whether we talk about Ray Palmer and his ATOM exo-suit, or the relationship between Malcolm and Thea, or the fate of Team Oliver now that it is broken, and Laurel’s own turn as the Black Canary.

Oh and yeah, Oliver isn’t dead, as we see in the scenes set not-in-Starling. Through the Hong Kong flashbacks and these scenes of Oliver’s revival, we see more of the relationship between him, Maseo and Tatsu, and I’m quite relieved that one of my fears from the end of the mid-season premiere didn’t bear out. But at the same time, something darker is at work, and Oliver’s good and true resurrection is still awhile coming.

More Arrow (Season 3): Ep 1, Ep 2, Ep 3, Ep 4, Ep 5, Ep 6, Ep 7, Ep 8, Ep 9.

More Arrow (Season 2): Link.

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Posted on January 23, 2015, in Arrow, Review Central, TV Show Reviews and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

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